Hands-on: The ROG Strix SCAR 18 gaming laptop packs a big screen in a nimble chassis

Sep 09, 2023 Written by:Eric Born

lid - 1

If you take a look at the PC gaming gear on my desk, it won’t take you long to discover a pattern to my preferences: I like big hardware. I like the ample building space provided by the spacious interior of the ROG Strix Helios chassis. I’m more likely to slip on an over-ear headset than to pop in a pair of earbuds. I prefer the tall, comfortable curves of the ROG Gladius III over the lighter, smaller ROG Keris. I insist on keyboards with numpads. And my only complaint about my large-and-in-charge 43-inch ROG gaming monitor? It could be a little bit larger

So when I first browsed the 2023 ROG gaming laptop lineup, one model in particular stood out to me: the ROG Strix SCAR 18. This cutting-edge laptop outdoes every “desktop replacement” notebook that I've ever owned with the sheer size of its 18-inch display. This one detail about this fully loaded machine didn't merely catch my interest. It completely infatuated me.  

They say that the waiting is the hardest part, and they’re right — there were some long months between my first glimpse of the ROG Strix SCAR 18 and its arrival on my desk. But now, I’ve had a few weeks to get to know this premium gaming laptop inside and out. And while its massive 18-inch panel might still be my favorite feature of this machine, it’s just one element of everything that the laptop has to offer. Powered by cutting-edge components, kept cool with the latest ROG Intelligent Cooling innovations, and draped in a style that shamelessly announces its love for gaming, the ROG Strix SCAR 18 shatters all boundaries.  

I’m no longer merely infatuated with this laptop. I’m in love.  

Bold style  

You might prefer lightweight, ultraportable laptops with an understated style that travels easily between your personal and professional lives. The ROG Zephyrus lineup was made for you. But not every laptop is destined to spend time on a corporate conference table. On most days, my gaming laptop won’t travel any farther than the distance from my desk to my living room couch. 

open - 3

Freed from the limitations of old-fashioned opinions, I get to enjoy whatever laptop style I want. And what I want is hardware that looks like it’s built for gaming, not enduring yet another corporate meeting via Microsoft Teams. The ROG Strix SCAR 18 gives me that kind of style in droves. A translucent slash across the keyboard deck of the laptop gives me glimpses of the potent hardware beneath. Per-key backlighting, a wraparound light bar on the front, and a massive array of RGB LEDs across the venting on the rear of the laptop all synchronize to bathe my gaming den in a cyberpunk glow. 

armor cap

There’s even an ROG armor cap at a corner of the laptop that I can swap out to fit my personal tastes. It’s held in place with magnets, so it’s easy to pop out, and there are alternate options bundled with the ROG Strix SCAR 18 that I can pop in at a whim. 

Putting all that space to good use 

The ROG Strix SCAR 18 has the room to provide give me all the modern conveniences I desire — and it takes full advantage of that space. When I saw that full-size, desktop-style keyboard, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Even with generous spacing between the keys, a full-size numpad, a separate and complete function key row, and a set of media keys, this laptop still has the room to give me a supersized touchpad, all without crowding the edges of the machine. 


There’s plenty of space for connectivity, too, even with the full-surround vents that claim that entire rear edge of the laptop — and a bit of the sides, as well. It gives me a next-gen HDMI 2.1 FRL port ready to drive my 4K external display at 120Hz, a 2.5Gb LAN port that delivers a speedy connection to my NAS, and a pair of USB Type-A ports for connecting peripherals and storage.  

left io

Considering that the Strix SCAR 18 gives me Bluetooth 5.3 and two USB Type-C ports, each wired to send DisplayPort signals and one ready to recharge my smartphone with USB Power Delivery, at least one of the USB Type-A ports is almost always free for me to pop in a thumb drive, even with my keyboard and mouse connected.  

Perfectly balanced, as all displays should be   

With some gaming laptop brands, shopping for a display is a frustrating process of hunting down every single spec and making sure that it’s up to snuff for gaming. With ROG, it’s easy — when I see that a laptop is equipped with an ROG Nebula Display, I know that it’s perfectly tailored to give me a premium experience across all the specs that I care about the most.  

open - 1

ROG Strix SCAR machines are laser-focused on giving gamers a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced esports titles. The ROG Strix SCAR 18 carries that legacy forward with an esports-ready Nebula display. It's a QHD panel, but with a 16:10 aspect ratio that gives it a taller vertical dimension than you get with standard 16:9 display. That works out to a 2560x1600 resolution, and it’s a great fit for the machine’s NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. This top-of-the-line graphics chip can produce dazzling frame rates at this resolution, allowing me to enjoy an increased level of detail over Full HD displays and supremely high FPS, all at the same time. 

Dominating esports performances are built on speed, and the ROG Strix SCAR 18 delivers that in droves. With its fast 240Hz refresh rate, it offers lightning-quick animation. When an enemy peeks out from around a corner, I can react with lethal precision. The display’s 3ms response time keeps the action crisp and clear, letting me track foes without blur hampering my vision, and NVIDIA Advanced Optimus support ensures that screen tearing is a distant memory. 

When I take a break from gaming to watch or show or catch a stream, the ROG Strix SCAR 18’s Nebula display gives me a great experience there, too. It offers 100% coverage of the cinema-grade DCI-P3 color gamut so that I can enjoy vivid, saturated colors. And it’s Pantone Validated for accurate colors so that I can enjoy media just as their creators intended. 

A not-so-secret weapon for esports  

The ROG Strix SCAR 18’s blazing-fast QHD panel is primed and ready for esports — and its potent CPU and GPU are champing at the bit, too. In tandem with the Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU can produce jaw-dropping frame rates in esports games. 

valorant - 3

Take Valorant, for example. In a fast and frantic deathmatch round, I saw a 445.7 average FPS at the ROG Strix SCAR’s native 2560x1600 resolution. FPS that high is a delight to behold, and it’s a game-changer, too. At any moment, I might find myself pinned down in a corner with only milliseconds to respond. In my experience, I get a clear competitive edge in these situations when I play at high FPS on a high refresh rate display, but you don’t have to take it from me. NVIDIA’s research on the subject finds a clear correlation between a gamer’s average FPS and kill/death ratios in competitive FPS games.  

The ROG Strix SCAR 18 offers great performance in any game  

Since its launch, Cyberpunk 2077 has stood as a tough test for any gaming rig. Its most demanding presets include cutting-edge graphics options that bring the colorful world of Night City to life. With Phantom Liberty on the way, a massive DLC that adds an all-new story, a new district to explore, and a new skill tree for creating my own playstyle, I’ve been eager to return to Cyberpunk 2077 and check out everything that’s new — and to see how the ROG Strix SCAR 18 performs.

Part of the fun of running a system with a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series Laptop GPU is that it gives me access to NVIDIA’s latest suite of RTX features, including ray tracing and DLSS 3 with Frame Generation. I’m always down for a free boost to my FPS, especially when it comes with no visual degradation to my experience, so I enabled DLSS at the Quality preset and toggled Frame Generation on.  

cyberpunk - 2

Using the Ultra preset and with the game running at the display’s native resolution of 2560x1600, the ROG Strix SCAR 18 was able to deliver a 144.9 average FPS performance in Cyberpunk 2077, more than fast enough to keep me in control as I split lanes on the highway on my motorcycle. Toggling one of the presets with ray tracing — a move which I absolutely recommend in this title — gives the GPU a greater workload, but the ROG Strix SCAR 18 has the gaming chops to keep up even with these photorealistic effects turned on. At its Ray Tracing Ultra preset, with an assist from DLSS 3 at its Quality preset with Frame Generation enabled, I saw a smooth 98.3 FPS. 

Another hard-hitting test for any gaming PC is Red Dead Redemption II. Known for stunning open-world, memorable characters, and realistic landscapes, it’s been making graphics cards sing for their supper since its launch on PC.  

rdr2 - 2

With its top-of-the-line GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU, the ROG Strix SCAR 18 has the graphics horsepower to tackle everything that Red Dead Redemption II has to throw at it. At 2560x1660, on the game’s Favor Quality preset, and with DLSS Quality enabled, I observed a 105.7 average FPS. Those settings give me a pixel-perfect, cinematic experience as I dig into this rich Western adventure — and the fast, fluid animation I need to be a lethal sharpshooter when the chips are down. 

Ready to tame the heat  

Not that long ago, a gaming laptop equipped with top-of-the-line hardware was by necessity a rather thick and clunky machine. Now, ROG Intelligent Cooling tech allows us to outfit laptops like the ROG Strix SCAR 18 with a beastly CPU and GPU while keeping a lean overall profile.  

third fan

Inside the chassis, replacing an SSD or upgrading the RAM is a straightforward affair. Its M.2 slots and SO-DIMM DRAM modules are easily accessible with the bottom panel removed. While I won’t be in a rush to bolster the storage or memory of the ROG Strix SCAR 18, its upgradable design assures me that I’ll be able to easily extend its useful life down the road. 

ROG Strix SCAR 18
Model G834JY-XS97 
CPU Intel Core i9-13900HX 
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU
Display 18-inch ROG Nebula Display
100% DCI-P3
RAM 32GB DDR5-4800
Storage 1TB + 1TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD
I/O 1 x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C 
1 x 2.5Gb LAN port 
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C 
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A  
1 x HDMI 2.1 FRL 
1 x audio combo jack 
Camera HD webcam
Audio 4 speaker system
Smart Amplifier Technology
Dolby Atmos
Wireless WiFi 6E
Blutetooth 5.3
Battery 90Wh Li-ion
Dimensions 39.9 x 29.4 x 2.31 ~ 3.08 cm 
 (15.71" x 11.57" x 0.91" ~ 1.21") 
Weight 3.10 Kg (6.83 lbs)
Availability (U.S.) ASUS
Best Buy
Micro Center

Get the big screen experience with the ROG Strix SCAR 18  

I’ve made no secret of my love for gaming laptops with spacious screens. When I’m exploring a fantasy world with a party of unlikely companions, taking off into deep space, or leading a group of friends into the thick of battle, I want to feel drawn in by a large display.  

logo with headset

For gamers like me, there’s no better choice than the ROG Strix SCAR 18. With its 18-inch ROG Nebula Display, it immerses me in a breathtaking expanse of pixels. Its potent Intel CPU and cutting-edge NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU deliver exceptional performance in any game. And thanks to the latest ROG Intelligent Cooling innovations, the ROG Strix SCAR 18 isn’t too large for me to pack up and take on the road. 

Don’t miss out on one of the most exciting years for PC gaming in recent memory. If your old machine can’t keep up with the latest PC games, secure an ROG Strix SCAR 18 of your own to get a front-row seat to the action.